An Indian American-owned pharma firm has pledged to donate 34 lakh Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate tablets to some of the key COVID-19 battleground states, including New York and Louisiana, joining the war against the dreaded coronavirus which by Tuesday had taken lives of more than 12,800 people in the US alone.Owned by philanthropic billionaire Chirag and Chintu Patel, New Jersey-based Amneal Pharmaceuticals, which is one of the largest US-based manufacturers, has also announced ramping up production of Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate at several of its manufacturing sites and expects to produce approximately 2 crore tablets between now and mid-April.
Those tablets will be made available nationwide through Amneal's existing retail and wholesale customers, as well as through direct sales to larger institutions in need, the company said.
Amneal has also announced a donation of 400,000 Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate tablets to Louisiana.
"All of us at Amneal are committed to supporting our communities in the global fight against COVID-19," said Chirag and Chintu Patel, Co-Chief Executive Officers of Amneal.
"We are working with urgency to assist the hardest-hit states and hospitals around the country to benefit as many patients as possible during this critical time," they said in a joint statement, issued by the Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
"It is important we all work together to help solve the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. We must come together as Louisianans and as Americans. This donation from Amneal demonstrates their strong effort to be a good corporate citizen in our nation," Landry said.
Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate was first synthesized in 1946 and is in a class of medications historically used to treat and prevent malaria.
According to Louisiana State Government, Amneal's Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate tablets are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, childhood arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
Hydroxychloroquine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of COVID-19; but it has been identified as a possible treatment for it, and the US government has requested its immediate availability.
"This is a crucial time in the global fight against COVID-19," Chirag and Chintu Patel said in a company press release.
"With an existing supply of Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate and our ability to quickly accelerate production, we are humbled to be able to assist the hardest-hit states and hospitals around the country to benefit as many patients as possible," the two brothers said.
Landry said that Amneal's donation is one step toward trying to find treatments and cures for this epidemic.
"Right now, there are no silver bullets. We must remain vigilant against the spread of this virus," he said.
The Louisiana State University School of Medicine is working to launch two different clinical trials using hydroxychloroquine in relation to COVID-19.
One trial will utilise Hydroxychloroquine on those who have significant COVID-19 disease. The other trial protocol will use and test the drug as a preventative measure for those healthcare workers on the front lines battling the epidemic.
Trials will be conducted at the University Medical Center in New Orleans and at the LSU Medical School locations in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, a media release said.